I was setting up for a shot at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom a few years ago when I caught some criticism from a mother with her kids. She summed it up with just a few words. It’s just a photo. Believe it or not, that’s been nagging me for these years.
Photography vs. Snapshots
Her comment irked me. Maybe it was the moment. Maybe it was the rather condescending way she said it. Maybe it was because I’d been waiting around to get this photo, biding my time while hordes of tourists proceeded before me to get their snapshots of the scene. One after another, they poured into the place, stood there with a cheesy grin while someone snapped a quick photo, and then they were off.
I never put myself above anyone else. I figure we all wait our turn to get what we want. There’s nothing special about me compared to them. So maybe that’s why the woman’s comment irked me. She treated me as though I were somehow less than the families visiting the park that day.
Why? Because I was doing something different. Because I didn’t have children. Because I was in her way when she just wanted to snap something and move on before the next parade or whatever was on her agenda.
While I waited like everyone else, I was a bit more deliberate than others. I setup a tripod, took my time focusing, and then checked my background. That’s what took the time. You can get a shot at Walt Disney World or any other crowded place if you’re patient. People will eventually move. It’s only photographers who stay in place.
I wasn’t inconsiderate of the other folks behind me while I was waiting. I realized that the background wasn’t going to be clear for my shot and waved other folks to come on in and get their snapshot. They didn’t care about the background, just that they had their family memento. It seemed like a fair trade to me.
Remembering It’s Just A Photo Is Important
Here’s the other half of the phrase “It’s just a photo.” I have no right or desire to hold up anyone else from getting the shot they want. If they just want a snapshot of the kids, that’s great. It’s just as important to them as my photo is to me. In fact, I admire the way some people can get in, get the shot, and get out. It’s the ones who stand there in the way of my shot holding a conversation about whether to go on Pirate’s of the Caribbean or Space Mountain that seem to piss me off. They can have that conversation anywhere, so why have it in front of my rather large camera mounted on a tripod?
It happens and I expect it. I don’t bother them, unless they can somehow hear the obscenities I’m muttering until they move out of my way. Haven’t been called on it yet, so my venting technique seems to work.
No matter how much thought I try to put into some of my photos, I still remind myself that it’s just a photo. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. I’ll never ruin someone else’s day just to get what I want. Photography teaches patience.
Maybe that’s why I was irked by the woman who chided me for trying to take my photo. She didn’t seem to have any similar respect for my objective.
Sometimes it seems funny to me. People always love nice photography. They want to see photos that make them want to go to those places in the image. So why treat the person who is trying to make that image like a second-class citizen?
There is an explosion of photography happening these days. Most of it happens on smart phones, I think. They’re all just photos, but they’re also memories. A little common courtesy and respect can go a long way, even if it is just a photo. It’s important to someone.
Another Swan Dock Sunset
This is my favorite view in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I just haven’t managed to get the photo I really want from it yet, but I keep trying. That’s part of the fun.